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The Broadband Stakeholder Group has launched a report, commissioned from Analysys Mason that looks at the practical steps the UK can take to lower barriers to telecoms infrastructure deployment.
The deployment of telecoms networks is not always delivered as efficiently as possible, thus creating delays in getting businesses and households connected or benefiting from improvements to their broadband connection. In order to deploy networks, typically putting network cables underground, telecoms providers have to comply with a number of regulations governing the planning process (e.g. to be able to block, dig and reinstate roads). Deployment at a national or multi-regional scale could in more cases than not prove a challenge when planning legislation is interpreted in differing ways by local authorities.
This report examines local authorities’ as well as operators’ practices that hinder or delay the roll-out of broadband infrastructure. The report focuses on four key areas affecting planning processes: noticing and permit schemes, Section 58 notices, road traffic management and planning permissions. It makes a series of recommendations to central and local government, as well as to operators, on how we can lower the burden on telecoms operators by creating consistency in the interpretation of legislation and improving the level of interaction between all parties.
Over the past year, the Government has put a clear focus on boosting investment and the deployment of full-fibre and 5G networks. It has allocated substantial funds to help stimulate those markets in addition to the current BDUK broadband rollout in rural areas and the forthcoming Universal Service Obligation. Publicly funded initiatives are therefore encountering the same challenges as commercially led projects and removing barriers to deployment is critically important to ensure that the UK is served by great connectivity.
Richard Hooper, Chair of the BSG, said: “Building infrastructure in the UK is extremely tough – due to our geography and legacy systems. But also due to regulation. We need to remove these barriers to ensure we get the digital infrastructure that our economy depends on. On their own, these barriers can seem small but a multitude of marginal gains can add up to more than the sum of their parts. We believe that this is the case here. Removing these barriers will help unlock investment and deliver networks with better coverage, capacity and quality.”.